Dave’s Off-Season Plan, Part Two

Dave · November 8, 2011 at 9:05 am · Filed Under Mariners 

So, last week, I laid out my suggestion for an approach the team could take to add the impact bat that everyone wants to see on the roster. Of course, the specific hitter targeted very well might not be available, so I said I’d introduce another plan that worked off the assumption that Joey Votto couldn’t be acquired. This is that plan, though you’ll notice it goes in an entirely different direction.

Essentially, in looking at what kind of offensive upgrades are on the market this winter, I simply don’t like the various paths the team could take. Yes, they could throw a huge amount of money at Prince Fielder, but given the costs associated with winning a bidding war for his services and the risks associated with his future production, it’s simply not a strategy that I think would be in the organization’s best interests. Beyond Fielder (and Pujols, who also isn’t coming here), it’s not a very good market for hitters. And so, while everyone wants the team to focus on upgrading the offense, I’m going the other direction.

The team still has a built-in competitive advantage for left-handed pitchers in Safeco Field. Because of how the park plays, LHPs garner a significant benefit from signing in Seattle, and the team can get a better return on investment from investing in left-handed pitching than just about any other type of player. There actually are some talented LHPs on the market this winter, and given the benefits the Mariners can offer southpaws, getting them to sign here is less challenging than trying to convince a power hitter.

So, this plan allocates most of the Mariners money this winter to rebuilding the pitching staff, and gives the team the opportunity to have one of the best run prevention units in baseball. It doesn’t do as much to fix the glaring problems on offense, but unfortunately, I’m not sure I see many good paths to do that this winter. Instead, by building out a potentially top-shelf pitching staff, the team sets themselves up to try to repeat the success of teams like the 2010 Padres. The goal – have the best pitching in the league and an offense that’s close enough to average to win enough low scoring games to contend.

I know people are tired of this kind of roster construction, and just want to see some people who can hit the baseball a long ways. But, forcing yourself down that path regardless of the wisdom of pursuing the available options is a great way to make mistakes that could hurt the franchise long term. Instead, the organization essentially kicks the can on the offense down the road, giving them further time to evaluate the young hitters that finished the season as regulars, and gives them enough pitching depth to make moves to acquire offense either in July or next winter, when better paths to rebuilding the offense arise and the team has a better feel for which guys already in the organization are part of the solution or not.

It’s the kind of off-season that likely wouldn’t be very popular in Seattle, but it would give the team enough talent to be respectable in 2012 while figuring out just how many of the offensive question marks can be useful pieces in the long term. This plan is more of a continue-to-evaluate option than an attempt to drastically upgrade the offense, but I’d prefer to see the team exercise patience than risk the long term viability of the franchise by going for a quick fix that just may not be possible.

With all that said, here is how the Mariners could spend the cash they have available this winter while keeping their options open going forward.

Transactions

Sign LHP Chris Capuano to a 2 year, $12 million contract.

Sign RHP Frank Francisco to a 1 year, $5 million contract.

Sign LHP Erik Bedard to a 1 year, $4 million contract.

Sign OF/DH Ryan Doumit to a 1 year, $4 million contract.

Sign C Chris Snyder to a 1 year, $3 million contract.

The money gets spread around rather than spent in one place, but Capuano gets the largest share of the available cash. I advocated the team sign him last winter too, when he was significantly cheaper, but all of the reasons for signing him that were true a year ago are true again. His inflated ERA will keep his price down relative to his actual talent levels, and with Safeco Field helping to alleviate his HR problems, he could be a pretty terrific pitcher for the Mariners.

The other largest chunk of change goes to a relief pitcher, which is probably a bit surprising given our insistance that teams can build a bullpen on the cheap without having to pay market rates for them. However, Francisco likely won’t be looking at a multi-year contract due to his home run problems, and on a one year deal, he’s the kind of guy that the team could get value from, especially if League ended up being traded for offense early in the season.

I talked about Bedard and Snyder last week, so we’ll mostly just skip over their places on the roster. That leaves Ryan Doumit as the final free agent signing, and unfortunately, as the guy who would receive most of the attention as the offensive upgrade of the winter.

You’ll notice first off that Doumit is not listed as a catcher – I’d ask him to turn in his catcher’s gear and transition to a OF/DH full-time. He’s not a good receiver anyway, and the wear and tear of catching has led to many of his health problems. Moving him out from behind the plate would hopefully keep him healthier and offer the potential for better offensive performance than he’s historically had, as there’s evidence that the rigors of catching hold down a player’s production at the plate. He’s unlikely to repeat the .360 wOBA he posted last year, but his offensive performance would likely be maximized by having him play the outfield, and he’d give the team an above-average switch-hitter with some power. He’s not any kind of life-saver, but he’d be a relatively low cost offensive upgrade and give the team some positional flexibility with the rest of the roster.

With those moves in place, the final roster would look like this.

The Roster

Position Name PA/IP WAR Salary
  Starters      
C Chris Snyder 300 1 $3,000,000
1B Justin Smoak 600 2 $450,000
2B Dustin Ackley 600 3 $1,500,000
SS Brendan Ryan 500 1.5 $1,750,000
3B Kyle Seager 500 1.5 $450,000
LF Ryan Doumit 400 1.5 $4,000,000
CF Franklin Gutierrez 600 2.5 $5,813,000
RF Ichiro Suzuki 600 2 $18,000,000
DH Mike Carp 500 1 $450,000
  Bench      
C Miguel Olivo 300 0.5 $3,750,000
IF Luis Rodriguez 200 0.5 $450,000
IF Chone Figgins 300 0.5 $9,000,000
OF Casper Wells 400 1 $450,000
  Rotation      
SP Felix Hernandez 220 6 $19,200,000
SP Michael Pineda 180 3.5 $450,000
SP Chris Capuano 180 2.5 $6,000,000
SP Jason Vargas 180 2.5 $4,000,000
SP Erik Bedard 120 2 $4,000,000
  Bullpen      
CL Brandon League 60 1 $5,000,000
RP Frank Francisco 60 1 $5,000,000
RP Tom Wilhelmsen 60 0.5 $450,000
RP Shawn Kelley 60 0.5 $450,000
RP Charlie Furbush 60 0.5 $450,000
RP Josh Lueke 60 0.5 $450,000
RP Blake Beavan 120 0 $450,000
Total     39 $94,963,000

Adding Doumit to the mix gives the team the ability to have 1B/DH/LF shared between two switch-hitters, a left-hander, and a right-hander – it’s setup well for Smoak, Carp, Doumit, and Wells to be placed in positions where they could perform the best, and then it’s just up for them to hit well enough to justify their spots in the line-up. The offense would essentially depend on those four providing power, and would sink or swim based on the level of production the team got from those players.

If they produce, and the team gets enough on-base ability from the likes of Ackley, Seager, and Gutierrez, the offense could be not-horrible, and the pitching staff would be among the best in baseball. Of course, we’ve seen that kind of plan go wrong the last couple of years, so there’s obvious risks associated with this type of strategy. However, it gives the team a chance at respectability in 2012, gives the team more time to evaluate the young talent already in house, and preserves the flexibility needed to make a move for a premium hitter should the right opportunity arise. With a strong, deep pitching staff, the team would be setup well to move pitching for hitting this summer, whether it’s dealing from the Major League roster if the team wasn’t a contender or moving from the supply of arms at the minor league level if they found themselves as buyers.

It’s not a flashy winter, but it’s a practical one that gives the team options and lets them continue along the path to rebuilding from within. It would require more patience from fans, but if a guy like Votto is out of reach, than staying the course is probably the best plan for the organization this winter.

Comments

125 Responses to “Dave’s Off-Season Plan, Part Two”

  1. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 9:20 am

    No CJ Wilson? Or is that going to turn into a Fielder-sized bidding war thanks to a thin FA starting pitching market?

  2. Alec on November 8th, 2011 9:21 am

    What about trying to make another deal with the Reds for a guy like Alonso?

  3. Blockhouse on November 8th, 2011 9:29 am

    I’m sure I’ll be in the minority, but I like Plan B which recognizes the pitcher-friendly park and allows the young talent to grow. However, I would be very interested in your analysis of what could be done to make Safeco a more hitter-friendly park. It’s currently a detriment in luring power hitters here. Why not admit that the walls were set too far out considering the cool/wet temperatures and low altitude of Seattle?

  4. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 9:34 am

    Also, I assume Luis Rodriguez is a placeholder for “whatever league-minimum utility infielder is picked up in the bargain basement bin around February”, since he’s a free agent as of a week ago or so.

    The offense would essentially depend on (Smoak, Carp, Doumit, and Wells) providing power, and would sink or swim based on the level of production the team got from those players.

    Well, this is a significant difference from the last time “stellar pitching, league-average offense” was tried, since the power in 2010 was supposed to come from guys like Bradley, Lopez, Griffey and Kotchman, if I remember right. There’s an argument to be made that if you believe in the future of the M’s roster, that someone out of Smoak, Carp or Wells at least needs to settle in and be a mainstay, one of the guys that drives Ackley or Ichiro in…

    …but man. Backing off of any other Votto-like trade, or overspending on Fielder, or anything else to upgrade the offense, after the last few years…

    It’s the kind of off-season that likely wouldn’t be very popular in Seattle

    …this is the early front-runner for understatement of the offseason.

  5. Spanky on November 8th, 2011 9:41 am

    I appreciate your patience in thinking through the plan. However, your closing paragraph strikes at a raw nerve (and the raw nerve is not your fault by any means).

    Not flashy…continue rebuilding…more patience…maybe be competitive. How many more years do we have to endure this thinking? Our payroll was one of the most competitive in the late 90s (meaning…one of the higher payrolls in the league). It hasn’t changed in over a decade and we continue to suck and hope to compete?

    I no longer live in Seattle and I have to keep asking myself…why should I care about the Mariners? I’m not saying we should go make a big acquisition (I’m not at all interested in Fielder). I look at the developmental leagues and wonder…why is it so thin we can’t see a day this year, next year, or the next that we’ll surpass expectations finally.

    Dave…how do you do it year in and year out? It is getting so frustrating!

    Okay…thanks for letting me vent. Flame away everyone if you want…it’s just where I’m at right now vis a vis the Mariners.

  6. groundzero55 on November 8th, 2011 9:41 am

    No CJ Wilson? Or is that going to turn into a Fielder-sized bidding war thanks to a thin FA starting pitching market?

    I think his postseason performance lowered his expected paycheck.

    I don’t hate this idea. I also didn’t hate the last one. This one however is much more contingent on people staying healthy and living up to expectations. No more worst-career-season sorts of shit.

  7. Seatt101 on November 8th, 2011 9:43 am

    I like this option better than seeking the power bat because I have more confidence in the pitching coaches reducing the runs prevention count with Capuano , Bedard and the rest of the satff than I have with the coaches to deliver more runs overall with one big bat. A power hitter would be a waste if clubs simply pitch around him if they would quickly determine this to be a valid runs prevention tactic.
    I like Capuano, like Bedard and think with what else the overall effect would be that we should make a good fist of holding teams to a very low run count.
    As for offence I would leave it to what we have in the minors for one more year – surely one of Wells, Robinson, Smoak, Peguero, Halman, Liddi and Carp can develop into a legitimate threat.
    But best of all I like it because I dont want to trade Pineda because there will come a time when we have to trade Felix.

  8. jimabbottsrightarm on November 8th, 2011 9:44 am

    Dave, how important is public perception going to be this off-season. I understand that in a vacuum, this would probably be the best plan of attack if Votto couldn’t be had, but how do you weigh that against attendance and some of those other tangible benefits that come with fan excitement.

    Do you think Z feels the pressure of his job to make a big splash?

  9. Mariners2620 on November 8th, 2011 9:57 am

    After the last few years, i have a hard time believing that Z and the gang are going to settle for this kind of plan. I don’t want to mortgage the future, however I feel as if it is not an option to stay put with the offense that we have. I am not one who feels as if we need to go out and get a “big bat”. We just need a few guys who can hit. Say Nick Swisher via a trade or something similar. We need some positive bats in this line-up.

  10. wsm on November 8th, 2011 10:02 am

    This plan would buy time for the kids to develop, but it could also cost Zdurenciek his job.

    It wouldn’t take much to go wrong for that roster to lose 90 games and if that happens ownership would be right to question Jack’s ability. With back-to-back unispiring offseasons he may have to watch someone else reap the benfits of his rebuilt farm system.

    I think this is a safe, realistic expectation for this offseason, but ultimately I have a feeling something bigger will get done. Even aside from Fielder, there are other opportunities to bring in some potential impact pieces and I’m sure Jack will be all over them all.

  11. Boy9988 on November 8th, 2011 10:03 am

    This is the kind of off-season that I had been envisioning. I wanted to see if Carp and Wells could repeat their performance or if it was just a fluke before giving one third of the roster to Prince. I wouldn’t give that much money to Capuano or at least not the second year, but other than that I’m good. I think the M’s should think about trading some minor league pieces to pick up a catcher of the future and look into some of the international free agents instead of Doumit. The price would be the same more or less and we still wouldn’t be selling the farm.

  12. Valenica on November 8th, 2011 10:06 am

    This type of roster building philosophy makes way more sense, and is probably the direction Z will go for 2012.

    Capuano looks like a better Vargas, but with a HR problem, that should be mitigated by Safeco. If he does well we can flip him in 1.5 years too.

    Francisco – don’t know how accurate the $/years are, but I would love an actual 9 K/9+ reliever on a one year deal. Good relievers are the hottest commodity at the summer deadline, so having one wouldn’t hurt. Not for $5 million, but if he could be had cheaper…

    Doumit as OF sounds really sketchy. His bat isn’t good enough to compensate both for defense and potential Wells/Robinson development. Rather just sign one of Doumit/Snyder to split catching with Olivo. And wouldn’t Pagan make more sense? He wouldn’t have the C flexibility, but at least he’s an actual 4th OF. Or hey, maybe Yoenis…

  13. KaminaAyato on November 8th, 2011 10:14 am

    …but man. Backing off of any other Votto-like trade, or overspending on Fielder, or anything else to upgrade the offense, after the last few years…

    Well, this scenario in my opinion means that you’re basically going to go one more year in developing players. And we can’t, nor should we, pander to the masses who say “ZOMG FIELDER!”

    Dave’s article on how far we are still away confirms my belief that we will have to tread water for one more season if we cannot fill in holes via trade. And when I mean via trade, I mean via trade that doesn’t give up the high prospects that Z has spent the last couple of years to obtain. Whether or not you believe the trades in Option 1, Dave didn’t sell the cream of the crop for those players – Pineda doesn’t count since he’s in the majors to stay. (If you really want my opinion, I believe the Reds FO thinks that if both Fielder and Pujols leave the division, they believe they have a chance which is why they want to keep Votto. But if at least one of them sticks around, I do not believe they will be competitive and may be more inclined to trade him for younger pieces to try again.)

    And either option, trades or FA signings, still leave a team that is marginally competitive in the division.

    The problem is that we have holes to fill in the majors, but our minor league system just isn’t ready to fill the gaps in just yet. That’s why I argued at LL that Z had just climbed out of the additional hole Bavasi dug for the org. We need our minor leaguers to fill in the holes, but we don’t have a surplus necessarily to trade away. That means Z is playing with a hand tied behind his back. He can draft and sign FA, but isn’t really able to do the full gamut of trade options. As a result, he’s had to make do with waiting for talent to develop and in the meantime patchworking the major league team with S/T signings so that he has flexibility when the org determines that they’re finally ready to contend.

    He’s slowly undoing that tie, but even when he does he’ll have to be very careful not to undercut himself when he does have the ability to freely trade.

  14. Evan on November 8th, 2011 10:17 am

    I’d like to see Moyer in this plan, but otherwise I see nothing wrong with it.

  15. JoshJones on November 8th, 2011 10:24 am

    Sign LHP Erik Bedard to a 1 year, $4 million contract.
    I wouldn’t be suprised to see him get a 2 year contract with an option. But i’d love to see him back in seattle.

    Sign OF/DH Ryan Doumit to a 1 year, $4 million contract.
    Sign C Chris Snyder to a 1 year, $3 million contract.

    Doumit gives a great deal of versatility and has managed to hit over .300avg 2 out of the last 4 seasons. I realize i’m just speculating but I highly doubt Jack Z is going to grab both when we still have Olivo and potentially a healthy adam moore.

  16. JoshJones on November 8th, 2011 10:28 am

    This “off-season plan, part two” is not going to be a popular idea. However, I do agree with you Dave that this plan would give the younger guys a full season to develop without jeopardizing our future.

    Honestly, if I were JackZ I wouldn’t sign snyder/capuano and instead sign CJ Wilson. He’s proven he can dominate in the AL and within our division and he’s a lot easier sell to the fan base.

  17. goat on November 8th, 2011 10:30 am

    I like that this plan provides a clear contrast to Plan A: it’s a lot more conservative. I think it makes sense if we look at it as Plan A and Plan B represent opposite ends of the spectrum of what the Mariners are likely to do. (With something like signing Fielder lying far to the left of Plan A.) I do think there are other trade targets besides Votto for upgrading the offense (Alex Gordon, Matt Kemp, etc.) I don’t think it will be terribly popular with the fans, as similar looking approaches have failed miserably the past two seasons. My guess is they end up doing something between these two extremes (acquire some pitching via FA, and trade pitching for a + offensive bat, though probably not quite as + as Votto).

  18. dafixisin on November 8th, 2011 10:36 am

    Ouch… this is plan B? Looks more like plan C. How’d it go from Votto and a few sticks to maintaining the Safeco status quo? Don’t forget to throw in the Jamie Moyer signing, as long as we’re going all arms. I’d like to think that ownership has got more minerals than this. Clu Haywood did not move to South Alaska to help the M’s break even.

    I’m sure most M’s fans would like to see this team focus on bringing the offense nearer to league average in the run production department. League average would be progress. Of course, in our fantasy, armchair GM minds we dream of the day the team welcomes Prince Fielder to the fold. I believe we’re all sick of watching King Felix lose 2-1 ballgames, while watching Dougie Fister rack up all those wins with Detroit, essentially pitching the same way he always has.

    FTR, I’m on board with the Bedard, Doumit and Snyder signings. I just can’t believe that this team will not have moved some of those outfielders by the start of spring ball. Also, I’m assuming your plans make no assumptions for internal callup candidates. Again, it’s just my opinion that by mid-summer both Hultzen and/or Paxton may be a part of the regular rotation. I’m also not discounting the possibility that one or even both of them make it right outta spring training. Which is why I’d like to see the team play the blasphemous six man rotation, to preserve all the arms in the rotation.

    There are plenty of bullpen candidates as well. Forrest Snow, Stephen Pryor, a healthy Mauricio Robles, etc.

    In a nutshell, plan B discounts what Jack Z does best: wheeling and dealing. The Trader Jack moniker fits for a reason. There is no way that this front office doesn’t push some chips onto the table this winter. Fielder is not the only prize to be had. But to hear it from the average Joe Mariners fan, you’d think he was. I believe that this thin pitchers’ market will dictate a lot of trade action. Right now, the low hanging fruit is in play (ie Sanchez for Cabrera). Once CJ Wilson and Buehrle are locked up, the fireworks will begin.

    Just opining.

    Some say the glass is half empty, others half full. I say “meh.”

  19. goat on November 8th, 2011 10:36 am

    Sign OF/DH Ryan Doumit to a 1 year, $4 million contract.
    Sign C Chris Snyder to a 1 year, $3 million contract.

    Doumit gives a great deal of versatility and has managed to hit over .300avg 2 out of the last 4 seasons. I realize i’m just speculating but I highly doubt Jack Z is going to grab both when we still have Olivo and potentially a healthy adam moore.

    I had the same thought. Doumit could be kind of a Victor Martinez light: catch once or twice a week, DH some of the rest. Can still get a look at Moore without having to necessarily see Olivo come to the plate 500 times if it doesn’t work out.

  20. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 10:37 am

    Well, this scenario in my opinion means that you’re basically going to go one more year in developing players. And we can’t, nor should we, pander to the masses who say “ZOMG FIELDER!”

    Oh, I agree, and I think this part 2 plan is a viable direction to go. Like I said, if you believe in the direction of the organization at all, sooner or later the Smoaks, Carps, even the Seagers and Wellses of the roster have to have an extended chance to prove themselves.

    It’s just certainly a pot-stirrer among a weary fanbase to make an argument that doubling down on pitching is a way to present a .500 or better team for 2012.

  21. msfanmike on November 8th, 2011 10:39 am

    I like the idea of signing Doumit, but only as a DH/C … with maybe a few games out of pure necessity as an outfielder. As an outfielder, Doumit makes Mike Carp look like Endy Chavez.

    The rest of the suggestions look pretty decent, with necessary adjustment at C depending on how Doumit might actually be used. A versatile 3rd/4th outfielder who can produce offensively would be great. Come to think of it, Endy Chavez could look like himself in place of the guy that Doumit was making look like Endy Chavez … and he could do it inexpensively.

  22. Bodhizefa on November 8th, 2011 10:40 am

    If this is the off-season the M’s have, then I’m horrified. I won’t be watching many games next year, and I won’t be coming back until our offense is halfway watchable. Not getting Joey Votto doesn’t preclude us from getting some other hitters that could help our team.

    That combination of players for that amount of money just makes my eyes bleed. The Mariners would be just as unwatchable in 2012 as they have been the last two years. Yikes.

  23. msfanmike on November 8th, 2011 10:42 am

    Come to think of it, Endy Chavez could look like himself in place of the guy that Doumit was making look like Endy Chavez … and he could do it inexpensively.

    I boned that one up.

    Should read: Endy Chavez could look like himself in place of Doumit (as an outfielder) who was making Mike Carp look like Endy Chavez.

  24. rickyabc on November 8th, 2011 10:49 am

    I definately like the Capuano signing. That seems like a no brainer for the M’s. I also like leaving Smoak alone. It’s too early to bring in a 1B and move Smoak to DH or give up on him. I still think he can be a star.

    I don’t love Doumit in the LF, but I assume he’d mostly DH anyhow. Carp is not good in left, but he has to be better than Doumit. I think I would rather see a more athletic player to share that LF role and like the upside of Sizemore there. You could even DH Sizemore a fair amount to keep him healthy with Wells and Carp seeing time in LF.

    We know that Hultzen and Paxton are coming, but this allows them to start in AAA and come up midseason when Bedard gets hurt or potentially trade one of them for a big bat if the M’s are in the race. I tend to want to keep the pitching, but a stud young pitcher got Beltran on the open market so that kind of trade could be there for the M’s in July if they are contending. They could trade one of the Paxton/Walker/Hultzen trio and still be in really good shape with young pitching.

  25. IdahoFan on November 8th, 2011 10:49 am

    Thank you for these posts. They are a highlight that I look forward to.

    How would you market this plan to Mariner’s fans? Makes me think of last year’s commercial with Jack Z asking for patience.

    Is there reason to believe that more hitters will be available mid-way through next season or a year from now?

  26. maqman on November 8th, 2011 11:03 am

    I can live with this plan or something like it and I get that it won’t be popular but it is realistic and sensible. Two differences, I’d sign Doumit but not Snyder as well and would not sign Francisco unless we trade League. Unlike some I trust Z to do what is possible to make the team better as a whole unit. One other point, I would select one of Capuano or Bedard, not both. M’s attendance this past season was down nearly 10 percent, that will have an impact if they don’t have retained earnings. Ichiro is signed for $17MM in 2013 and $5MM of that is deferred.

  27. The_Waco_Kid on November 8th, 2011 11:08 am

    I really like this. It’s a great way to address our dilemma: The few good FA hitters out there are way overpriced and we need to let the kids develop. We’d be signing FA based on value, not need, while we find out where the true holes in our lineup are. If we build up a real pitching surplus, we can trade pitching to fill those holes later. I agree with Valencia, we can maybe flip Capuano when Paxton/Hulzen is ready.

    This lets us cautiously go for it next year without mortgaging our future. To get the hitting we really want, we’d have to trade good prospects (mortgaging future), spend way more money than usual, or trade away pitching (then we’d just need pitching again). Z can pull this off because he has 2 years, saving us from a repeat of when Bavasi was in the “hot seat” and made terrible desperation moves.

    Lastly, Dave, your Doumit idea sounds good, but my sense is they would use him as a catcher if they got him.

  28. Valenica on November 8th, 2011 11:13 am

    Here’s the reality check: we’re not contending until 2014. Deal with it. It feels like we’ve been waiting 3 years to get better, but realize this:

    Smoak just finished his first full year in the MLB, derailed by injuries.

    Carp showed us his new swing in half a year.

    Ackley showed us why he’s the savior in half a year.

    Wells and Robinson will work their butts off this off-season to earn the LF spot.

    Seager’s 3B was 23 year old with 24 games of AAA development.

    Franklin, Hultzen, Paxton all will come up 2012 barring injury.

    We’ve JUST started truly rebuilding. All our players are finally coming up. It took us 3 years to get rid of contracts and acquire players through trade/draft. We can’t just trade everything away Bavasi style and try to buy a contender. We need to develop players at the MLB level. In 2-3 years, all our players will start peaking together. We need to wait patiently for that moment, and not deviate from the plan. Buy short term contracts, buy players that won’t block anyone (no OFers) and wait for the right moment. Once we peak and we find ourselves 5 WAR short, then we can start buying up higher quality FAs to fill in holes. Until then, wait.

  29. IwearMsHats on November 8th, 2011 11:13 am

    I am not sure what is more painful to think about. This roster next season or the vasectomy I’m having on Friday.

  30. KaminaAyato on November 8th, 2011 11:15 am

    It’s just certainly a pot-stirrer among a weary fanbase to make an argument that doubling down on pitching is a way to present a .500 or better team for 2012.

    It’s only because that weary fanbase doesn’t and aren’t willing to look at the whole picture, minors and all. That’s why I wish Z would educate the fans to understand the process. Doing so would help people understand what he’s trying to put in place.

  31. Cody on November 8th, 2011 11:25 am

    Valenica is right on the money.

  32. msfanmike on November 8th, 2011 11:26 am

    I am not sure what is more painful to think about. This roster next season or the vasectomy I’m having on Friday.

    Please keep us posted when you know for certain. I am guessing the latter, but if you could actually condense the “pain” of a 162 game schedule into a two-week timeframe, probably the former.

    Either way, ice and rest will take care of at least one of the problems.

  33. Johnny U on November 8th, 2011 11:28 am

    I really don’t think the Reds are interested in moving Votto. Plan B isn’t all that exciting as a Mariner fan. What would a Plan C look like that would include a Felix trade??? I know that having an Ace pitcher is the equivalent to having a elite QB in football, but with having Pineda, Paxson, Walker, and Hultzen all on the horizon, I would like to see what a roster would look like without Felix?

  34. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 11:30 am

    That’s why I wish Z would educate the fans to understand the process. Doing so would help people understand what he’s trying to put in place.

    I’d think it would be challenging to do that without potentially overhyping some of the players in the minors. Or discouraging any players brought in here in the interim… it’s one thing to be realistic with oneself about their career, one-year contracts, etc. but possibly another to have it made plain that you’re not the Golden Boy, they’re in AA and a couple years away.

    Although come to think of it, it seems like the fans that need convincing, are already staying away in droves and won’t come back until the M’s are in a pennant race again anyway.

    Most of SafeCo Field attendance seems to be school groups, tourists, a few knots of diehards and then the opponents’ fans who transplanted to the northwest from other places and can’t get their live baseball fix any other way (Yankee, Red Sox, Blue Jays, etc.).

  35. vertigoman on November 8th, 2011 11:41 am

    I like this plan. Maybe I’m not as bullish on the names but the theory works. I’m sure the M’s PR dept hates the prospect of selling the seemingly same product that’s lost nearly 200 games the last 2 seasons.
    But building pitching depth is a great way to build commodity. The position players could very well out perform those somewhat conservative projections and the defense continues to make the pitchers look better than they already are.

  36. ajoster on November 8th, 2011 11:46 am

    This is a solid and realistic plan, and if the Mariners execute it I will be very frustrated. I’ve spent the last 10 years living and dying with this franchise, and watching them go nowhere. I want to see an agressive offseason with ownership committing to a payroll increase in the 15-20 million range. As a fan, I don’t feel like the ownership is committed to winning. If they don’t care, why should I?

    I’m a long time reader, and first time commenter. Thanks for letting me get that out.

  37. KaminaAyato on November 8th, 2011 11:50 am

    Although come to think of it, it seems like the fans that need convincing, are already staying away in droves and won’t come back until the M’s are in a pennant race again anyway.

    Most of SafeCo Field attendance seems to be school groups, tourists, a few knots of diehards and then the opponents’ fans who transplanted to the northwest from other places and can’t get their live baseball fix any other way (Yankee, Red Sox, Blue Jays, etc.).

    Well, I had a couple of times during the last couple of years where I had interactions with fans that continued to talk about the traditional stuff, and some that even didn’t know who was on the bench. For example, late in a game a fan behind me wanted a PH for one of the batters. I turned around and said that several players were hurt, one didn’t play that position and the other was the backup C – basically saying we had no bench and that’s why the batter wasn’t PH for. The fact that fans don’t even know the basic stuff like that makes me sideways.

    In some ways I’m glad the diehards are left. Expand the King’s Court, add something for Pineda, make it an active place with cheering, and then watch as the bandwagoners come crawling back in several years and tell them, “Yeah, we were here sticking it through while you went off doing other things. We KNOW this team.”

    I admit it, I’m a bit of an elitist. And I know there are the casual fans out there. But it bugs me that there are so few people who are knowledgeable about the team that attend games and who take the time to learn.

  38. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 11:51 am

    feels like we’ve been waiting 3 years to get better,

    Well, 3 years if you thought 2008 was a horrific fluke, after you thought the M’s were for real in August of 2007, and missing by 6 games in 2007 was just a one-bat-away thing.

    If not – if you thought 2007 was the unsustainable fluke – then it’s been 8 years since the M’s finished 2nd in 2003, 3 games back and 93 wins.

    I don’t know how much of the core fanbase thinks 2009 or 2007 were a sign of an upward trend, either at the time or shortly thereafter.

    And of course, the casual fan likely counts back from playoff appearances, in which case, over a decade and counting.

    I know this seems like parsing and nitpicking, and I don’t mean to Valencia, you’ve had some thoughtful posts here lately. I just don’t want people to underestimate the feeling of what a lost decade it’s been for a lot of M’s fans…

  39. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 11:54 am

    Kamina – Hopefully the same marketing guys are still here this year. And that they’re taking notes from some of the Sounders’ success around engaging the fans.

  40. TheMightyMariner on November 8th, 2011 11:57 am

    Well, I can’t say I am a Doumit fan (maybe a few years ago). I prefer this plan, for the most part, over the Votto plan. We don’t dump a lot of our prospects when we need more than one player to help us improve.

    Prince is young and should be solid for a few years. I think he would also be a bit cheaper than the contract Dave noted. Prince must realize his defence is not great and he is en route to becoming a career DH.

    I would like to see us get Bedard back. Capuano would be OK (would he actually command that much $ ?). Give Moyer an opportunity to be our #5 too!

    I would also like to see if we can get Grady Sizemore on the cheap and have him get into LF. I wouldn’t mind hanging on to Carp and have him move into RF when Ichiro is gone (Carp would also be a decent back-up, along with our other prospects, in LF for Sizemore).

    Other than that, I would like to see an improved bat at 3B which could happen via trade. The other sore spot is catcher but, again, maybe a deal is there to be made for one.

    I think we’re stuck with Chone. Why not let that guy try leadoff? There is no way it could hurt our offence!

    Anyway, going after decent talent and not getting rid of our prospects (the decent ones) is my preference. I am afraid of mega-deals. There is never a guarantee on your return so let’s leave Votto out of our plans :)

  41. Paul Covert on November 8th, 2011 11:59 am

    I like this plan (a lot better than the “Part One” version, which depended more heavily on trades than I’m comfortable with). My summary of the argument for this approach is:

    • For 2012, we’re basically set up to be about a 75-win team;
    • Mid-level signings to fill in gaps (as in Dave’s “Part Two” plan here) only make us about an 80-win team;
    • Making a big free-agent splash (i.e. signing Fielder) only makes us about an 85-win team, which isn’t enough to challenge Texas and may jeopardize the future in the process.

    To add trades on top of this: Normally a trade has to be value for value (unless you can catch your trading partner making a blunder in identifying value, which I don’t want to count on). The most significant element of value-for-value trades is present value vs. future value; and 2012 doesn’t make sense to me as the year to try to max out on.

    In my view, 2014 should be the year this version of the Mariners hits its peak, if it’s going to at all. Most importantly, it’s the last year of Felix’s current contract (so that 2013 needs to be at least a near-contending year to avoid trade scenarios that none of us want to think about). If things go well, this would involve Pineda, Ackley, and hopefully Smoak establishing themselves as stars alongside Felix, with Hultzen and Paxton well on their way up, and some combination of Carp, Seager, Wells, etc. as a supporting cast. If 2012 shows solid progress toward the goal for that group, then next year could be the time to consider trading the 2015-2017 value of Taijuan Walker for the 2013-2014 value of an established regular who can help take us to the top. And if we don’t see good progress from the nucleus described above—then it’s probably time to find something besides baseball to pay attention to in the summer. :-(

    What I hope for from 2012 is at least a near-.500 year, showing progress from the young core. That’s also what I hoped for from 2011; what I saw was Pineda and Ackley stepping up but the overall team stagnating, so that 2011 was mostly a disappointment, though with a couple signs of hope. So I’m more pessimistic about Jack’s plan for the team than I was a year ago, but haven’t given up hope yet.

    (Incidentally, I’m not entirely against a Fielder signing– just kind of skeptical and cautious about whether it would work. The key point I’d wish to make is that such a signing would have to be justified by his value from 2013 to about 2015, since 2012 is unlikely to be a contending year with or without him, and only if he helps take us to the top in 2013-15 will we be happy with having him as a highly-paid marginal contributor in 2016-18.)

  42. Paul Covert on November 8th, 2011 12:03 pm

    (Further note, after reading the thread more carefully: Yes, I’m basically agreeing with Valenica.)

  43. ck on November 8th, 2011 12:09 pm

    I like this plan. Dave is correct to see M’s should maximize left handed pitching. Signing free agents is safer than trading a current prospect that other teams desire. I hate watching All-Star games with former M’s at many positions. If one or more of our prospects forces his way onto the team by out-playing who ever is ahead in the depth chart, Hooray !

  44. Valenica on November 8th, 2011 12:09 pm

    My 3 year timeline starts with Z. Obviously the casual fans timeline starts from 2001, which is why we’re in this mess of unrealistic expectations. The great thing about being a Mariners fan though is that we have USSM. No other team has a blog as eye opening and enlightened as ours, as accessible for casual fans. We do a good job converting casual fans.

    Yes, Safeco usually has a bunch of old guys who like old stats, dads watching a game for the first time with their kids, the random assortment of non-fans there to have some fun, and what not. But that’s okay too. While they’ll come out to watch us when we’re contending for the playoffs, we’ll have stuck through it all, watched and understood how the team went from zero to something. And we’ll appreciate it.

  45. BackRub on November 8th, 2011 12:10 pm

    Dave, what do you think about adding Punto (and dumping Figgins) instead of Francisco? Is part of the value in adding Francisco the likely draft picks he’ll net us next year, assuming the compensation plan stays the same?

  46. thr33niL on November 8th, 2011 12:13 pm

    This plan would work fine if there was a semi-blockbuster-esque trade weaved in. I just think there is no way Jack just sits on the FA market without dealing from his depth. There just isn’t enough roster space to give all the “kids” a shot.

    I see either a deal for a LFer or 3B being a necessity this offseason. Package up one of our young pitchers (Walker or Paxton) along with Seager, one of Wells or Robinson and some fluff if needed. A package like that should be able to snag a #3 hole bat at 3B or LF.

    No way Jack can afford this wait and see tact any longer. If he turns in another 90 loss season, he’s done in my eyes. The Pittsburgh Pirates of the world that are devoid of a payroll have the right to ask for this sort of patience. Not a team with 90 million on the books. There just is no excuse to be perennial losers. Jack had slack because of the mess Bavasi left him but he’s been on the job long enough to the point where this is HIS team now.

    Something drastic needs to be done THIS offseason. The Felix clock is ticking.

  47. eponymous coward on November 8th, 2011 12:13 pm

    Here’s the reality check: we’re not contending until 2014.

    At which point, Felix will be in the final year of his contract, meaning that if your hypothetically “ready to contend” 2014 Mariners get unlucky with injuries/plain bad luck and go 75-87 (you can easily do this with a team with a true 90 win talent level), you’re going to be looking at convincing Felix to resign with an organization that has NEVER played a meaningful game in September with him on the roster.

    There’s also the small problem that by the end of 2013, Zduriencik will have been a Mariner GM longer than Bill Bavasi was- and it’s not like the 2003 Mariners were an awesome base for Bavasi to start out with.

  48. bat guano on November 8th, 2011 12:20 pm

    This plan is both realistic and sensible, though certainly not exciting. We are still a ways from being competitive and Z is not going to be able to solve all of the problems this offseason. 2012 is going to be another year of evaluating what we have (i.e. the kids) and which needs will have to be addressed outside the system. Yes, it’s depressing, but at least we aren’t the Orioles or Astros. And at least Bavasi is not running the show. Hurray for that. My biggest quibble is that I think Figgins needs to go away. Not sure how that happens, but maybe we could send him out in exchange for another bad contract (Soriano? Zito?)

  49. Badbadger on November 8th, 2011 12:25 pm

    Because of how the park plays, LHPs garner a significant benefit from signing in Seattle, and the team can get a better return on investment from investing in left-handed pitching than just about any other type of player. There actually are some talented LHPs on the market this winter, and given the benefits the Mariners can offer southpaws, getting them to sign here is less challenging than trying to convince a power hitter.

    I know this is unlikely to happen, but I wonder if the M’s wouldn’t be better off jiggering with their outfield dimensions a bit. It’s not like fans typically pack the stadium to watch soft-tossing lefties get 18 warning track flyouts.

    I see the wisdom of your approach here, but all in all would rather eat a gallon of rancid mayonaise than watch a repeat of 2010/2011 offensive flacidity. Since we aren’t contending next year anyway, I’d gladly sacrifice a couple of wins to see a more potent offense.

  50. Valenica on November 8th, 2011 12:27 pm

    What is this obsession with the Felix window? Yes, we all want to win with him as our Ace, but if he leaves, he leaves. The real window is Dustin Ackley’s window, 2013-2017. If we’re up and running by 2014, we have a good 4 year window. We shouldn’t mortgage our future to contend in Felix’s short 2013-2014 window against the peaking Rangers. We need to focus on developing a team Felix wouldn’t mind resigning for, so we can contend 2014-2017 and beyond.

  51. eponymous coward on November 8th, 2011 12:39 pm

    What is this obsession with the Felix window?

    I’m pointing out that your argument of “no point in trying to win until 2014, ‘cuz it’s impossible” basically is an argument for trying to flip Felix for talent that we can use in 2013-2017. Why should we be paying 40 million dollars for an ace pitcher on bad 2012-2013 teams, as opposed to hauling in prospects now that will be ready in 2014-2017?

    I’m also pointing out that there’s decent odds that if there’s no chance of building a contender until 2014-2017, then not only is there a very good chance that Felix isn’t going to be part of the next contending team, there’s a very decent likelihood Jack Zduriencik won’t be the general manager of that contending team, either. At some point, you don’t just get judged on process; you get judged on results- and 5 years of Bavasi-style win-loss records, and pretty big payrolls isn’t exactly showing your bosses how you’re the best GM EVAR.

    Nobody is arguing for mortgaging the future. Dave’s proposed signings don’t mortgage anything. But a strategy that throws a few years of contending baseball away isn’t risk-free, either.

  52. KaminaAyato on November 8th, 2011 12:44 pm

    Nobody is arguing for mortgaging the future. Dave’s proposed signings don’t mortgage anything. But a strategy that throws a few years of contending baseball away isn’t risk-free, either.

    Sure, but do you want an organization built for long-term success or not?

  53. Mariners2620 on November 8th, 2011 12:50 pm

    I think we could pick up an Alex Gordon without mortgaging the future. He would be the kind of player that we could pick up and sign to a decent contract, and be able to contribute at a high level in a position of need. Just a thought.

  54. eponymous coward on November 8th, 2011 12:54 pm

    Sure, but do you want an organization built for long-term success or not?

    How’s having smart GMs who decide “we need to throw some years away” worked out in terms of Oakland and Cleveland’s long-term success? Are they flying any pennants lately?

    I’ll put it this way: saying “we should go after pitching and very targeted free agent position players to improve the 2012 team, and not screw up 2013-2014″ is very different from “we can’t contend until 2014″.

  55. nwade on November 8th, 2011 12:57 pm

    A couple of people have said it, but I want to reiterate the point: For those who complain about why we haven’t seen results yet or why we’ve been rebuilding for so long, please see Valencia’s earlier comment near the top of the thread.

    The reality is that the M’s were generally sliding downhill after 2004. Bavasi *should have* been working on rebuilding the team by 2006. If he’d done that, 2010/2011 could have been contending years for this franchise. But the real rebuilding didn’t start until 2010 (I don’t count Z’s first year because he had to get into the organization, understand it, earn respect, and gain the right to make big changes from those above him). So we’re really only entering year 3 (in 2012) of rebuilding. Its painful and it sucks and I hate it as much as everyone. Hell, I may not watch as much of them next year if they don’t come out of the gate strongly.

    BUT its worth noting that (as far as we know), 2012 is the first year in a while where we are *not* going to feature a retiring Griffey, a struggling Kotchman, a aged Kennedy, a worn-out Wilson, a stay-puffed Silva, a volatile Bradley, the huggin’ Sweeney, the cooling Cust, etc.

    If you look at Mariners PAs from 2009 – 2011 on Fangraphs, you know who the top 5 are? Ichiro, Guti, Jose Lopez, Chone Figgins, and Russell Branyan. Know who the next 5 are? Saunders, Smoak, Griffey, and both Wilsons. Holy Shit, people, that’s a whole other level of bad! Smoak, Guti, and Ichiro should be good and may yet be valuable team members; but they’ve had problems over the last couple of seasons – and that still leaves 7 other not-good names on that list.

    But the crap-heap and bad contracts are nearly wiped away (Figgins being the lone exception; and did ANYONE see that big of a collapse coming?). Its too early to be excited, and still too soon after the season to be anything but weary and cynical. But evaluating the team based on Wins & Losses really masks the progress and dramatic changes that have been going on (and are set to happen next season).

  56. PackBob on November 8th, 2011 1:09 pm

    This is the kind of plan that Jack Z. has been working with all along, going with the strengths of the team while trying to rebuild the minors. Figgens was one of those disasters that eventually happen to all GMs. I think Jack is always looking for added value for the whole organization rather than quick fixes.

    This would provide the pitching. The only question is whether the hitters will hit. Baseball is pretty simple in that respect. I have more hope for this lineup than last year’s, particularly if Ackley and Smoak improve.

  57. Valenica on November 8th, 2011 1:13 pm

    How’s having smart GMs who decide “we need to throw some years away” worked out in terms of Oakland and Cleveland’s long-term success? Are they flying any pennants lately?

    Daniels took over the Rangers in 2005. They didn’t contend until 2010, and that’s WITH the ridiculous haul Teixiera brought them. During that time, the Rangers went from 15th in offense (2005, pre-Daniels) to 25th in offense (2006, 2007). Daniels punted both 2006 and 2007 in order to rebuild properly, and now look where the Rangers are. Hamilton, Cruz, and Kinsler didn’t just start out as stars. It took them years of experience to get to where they are. Just like Daniels gave his core a couple years to develop, we need to give our core a couple years to develop. Once they’re ready, you can add Napoli, Beltre, and what not. This is the basic model for rebuilding – no it’s not guaranteed but when it’s done correctly it’s hard to fail at it.

  58. diderot on November 8th, 2011 1:24 pm

    I know people are tired of this kind of roster construction, and just want to see some people who can hit the baseball a long ways. But, forcing yourself down that path regardless of the wisdom of pursuing the available options is a great way to make mistakes that could hurt the franchise long term. Instead, the organization essentially kicks the can on the offense down the road, giving them further time to evaluate the young hitters that finished the season as regulars, and gives them enough pitching depth to make moves to acquire offense either in July or next winter, when better paths to rebuilding the offense arise and the team has a better feel for which guys already in the organization are part of the solution or not.

    I would like nominate this as the best paragraph I’ve ever seen Dave write.
    Barring a Cliff Lee type miracle opportunity, I think this is the only way to go.

    The only other thing I would hope Jack does is find a way to trade for one of the Reds’ catching prospects.

  59. groundzero55 on November 8th, 2011 1:34 pm

    I think we could pick up an Alex Gordon without mortgaging the future. He would be the kind of player that we could pick up and sign to a decent contract, and be able to contribute at a high level in a position of need. Just a thought.

    Not anymore we can’t. The Royals traded away Cabrera showing they are sticking with Gordon in the outfield. Our window for that trade was before the Royals made the Melky trade.

  60. vj on November 8th, 2011 1:39 pm

    Did Super-Reader Paul Covert just make an appearance?
    Good reading you, your comments have been missed.

  61. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 1:41 pm

    I do wonder how the Rangers and Angels – mostly the Rangers – will do in the next 2 or 3 years. The Angels will have to shed some of their vets and complement Trout, Bourjos, etc. at some point, and their front office got smarter. The Rangers are deep in talent in the majors, minors and front office, unless I’m forgetting something significant (always possible).

    So, all these plans that sound viable on paper, and are sensible and internally consistent, won’t help much if 88-ish wins is only good enough for a strong 2nd.

    I don’t think a wild card can really be counted on per se, as there’s probably a good 2 or 3 strong organizations to have to beat out to make that in a given year. So, it’s about winning the west. Especially if there’s a 5th team in the division again soon, and the opportunities to do well head-to-head against the Rangers or even the Angels are fewer.

    What’s the bar for winning the west, and what will it take to counter the Rangers specifically, the next couple years? That has to be in the mix for “we can contend in 2012/2013/2014″ projections…

  62. KaminaAyato on November 8th, 2011 1:52 pm

    Valenica, you and I are on the same page for once.

    I said it here. Compare the M’s roster to those of playoff teams and you see that the majority of main players on the roster were acquired during Z’s tenure. Which means that there was NO ONE in the minors that he felt was good enough from the pre-existing pool to promote outside of Pineda.

    So unless you want to spend heavily on FA’s like the Yankees to get your team, you’re going to have to deal with the rebuilding.

  63. HighBrie on November 8th, 2011 1:54 pm

    I think the sequence of parts I and II have psychological consequences which I had not entirely anticipated. At first, I feel like I’m being told I’m pretty, and I deny it a little, but I like it. In the second one, I’m told I’m a fat kid. That’s just it. A fat kid. Eat right.

  64. Browl on November 8th, 2011 2:01 pm

    I’m a bit surprised Dave didn’t go after a third baseman. He does not seem to be too high on Seager as an everyday player. At the very least I would expect the Mariners to add some depth just in case both Seager and Figgins struggle.

  65. charliebrown on November 8th, 2011 2:17 pm

    The problem with this route is that fans may not come to the ballpark to watch a .500 team play a lot of 3-2 ballgames.

    If fans stop coming, ownership may just reduce the payroll. And if they do that, then there won’t be enough money for the offensive upgrade that has been so desperately needed for the last few years.

    I can’t find any flaws with this plan as a backup, but I think there could be consequences if the backup plan doesn’t keep fans coming to the games.

  66. Shizane on November 8th, 2011 2:17 pm

    I know you allude to it above, but I still don’t understand how this off-season plan includes spending $5M on a RP. As you mention, more often than not you can cobble together a bunch of interesting, low risk arms and find one guy who will put up a good year at close to the league minimum (ex. David Pauley). Why not invite a bunch of these guys (ex. Juan Gutierrez) to camp and say “here’s your chance to rebuild your value in a great pitcher’s park”? Then spend $4.5M on the offensive upgrade of your choice.

    *Edit: Juan Gutierrez is out for the year with TJ surgery, so bad example…..point still stands though.

  67. Mariners2620 on November 8th, 2011 2:42 pm

    Bottom line is, some people have more patience then others. I myself, will but don’t want to endure another 162 games of pure misery. It really is an awful feeling, game after game scoring 0-2 runs. There are avenues that this team can take to pick up some players that can swing a decent bat with consistency, who will contribute now and for the next few years. It’s possible. Why waste money on a Ryan Doumit or a Chris Snyder for a couple of years? It definitely can’t be to keep the fans interested, because I for one will not be excited one bit if they sign either of them. If signing those types of players will make us a 75-80 win team, why not give those spots to a few AAA players. What is the difference in a 75-80 win team not looking to contend right now, and a 65-70 win team not looking to contend right now. Both will be horrendous and neither will draw a big crowd. You might as well save the cash on those couple of players and start a few AAAA journey men that are already in the system.

    Either way, the crowd will be minuscule day in and day out. A team that wins 73 games is not much more lucrative to a free agent then a team that wins 65 games. Guaranteed. If the team is going to be awful, just accept it and save the money for next off season.

  68. nathaniel dawson on November 8th, 2011 2:44 pm

    I just noticed that B-Ref has Shawn Kelley as Super-Two arb eligible for 2012. That seems odd, but apparently his month in the big leagues this year pushed him over to his second year of service time. He’s not going to get much of a raise, but it does raise the possibility that the M’s could non-tender him. I doubt they will, as he’s probably worth whatever small raise he’ll get through arbitration.

  69. groundzero55 on November 8th, 2011 2:49 pm

    So, all these plans that sound viable on paper, and are sensible and internally consistent, won’t help much if 88-ish wins is only good enough for a strong 2nd.

    Or worse, like it was back in 2003 when 92 wins was only good enough for third place.

  70. Jopa on November 8th, 2011 2:54 pm

    I like this idea much more than plan one. I think it’s much more in the spirit of the direction the M’s are headed – building from within and being patient with the process.

    I, too, see 2014 as the year that they begin to become perennially competitive.

    I think the two big events to come, possibly both after the 2012 season, are the expiration of Ichiro’s contract and the trade of Felix. Obviously, I’d prefer they raise their payroll to $120M to keep Felix. Assuming they don’t, then these two moves, done properly (properly, meaning not extending Ichiro), add both payroll to be aggressive in free agency and a couple young stars under team control for years.

    I see the future rotation built around Pineda, Paxson, Hultzen and Walker, plus someone like Snow, Beaven, Campos, E. Ramirez.

    The payroll savings from both Ichiro and Felix could be used to sign 2-3 high quality veteran fielders plus the 1-3 you’d get in return for Felix who I imagine would be low salaried team-controlled rising stars.

  71. Liam on November 8th, 2011 3:17 pm

    That seems odd, but apparently his month in the big leagues this year pushed him over to his second year of service time.

    He was earning service time while on the DL.

  72. opiate82 on November 8th, 2011 3:31 pm

    What kind of financial damage would this plan do to the team if it didn’t work? People are already leaving SafeCo in droves and I can’t imagine another year of anemic offense is going to help that. Winning cures all obviously, but what if they don’t win? What kind of damage to the organization would another attendance drop do?

  73. matto on November 8th, 2011 3:51 pm

    What about Armando Galarraga as a Minor League FA signee for the #5 role? He fits the big ballpark type of pitcher and he’d have a minimal salary too. Seems like a perfect guy for such a plan like this one.

  74. arsenal on November 8th, 2011 3:56 pm

    Considering what’s available to the Mariners I like this offseason plan of Dave’s. Let’s take what the market gives us and continue to have patience. If Capuano, et al, offer the best value, then sign them even if they are pitchers.

  75. Westside guy on November 8th, 2011 4:23 pm

    I agree with all those folks who have said this would be very frustrating to see – at least for the off-season.

    However, given the talent that’s out there this year… I think Dave is spot on. Whether it’ll make the fan base happy or not, the team can’t just do something stupid simply to appease them. If there’s not good offensive players available whose skillset matches the Mariners needs, you have to make do.

    I disagree strongly with the people who have referred to this as “treading water”, though. That implies staying in the same place, and improving pitching significantly is definitely not holding still.

    I do hope they will at least make an attempt at Votto or someone analogous, though.

  76. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 4:37 pm

    Aren’t there 3b that are close to Votto’s caliber, that are possibly available, that the Votto proposal could be done with?

    Or hell, do the Diamondbacks need a pitcher of Pineda’s caliber, to try the Votto proposal but to get Justin Upton instead?

  77. rth1986 on November 8th, 2011 4:37 pm

    I like the idea of Capuano. Hate the idea of Doumit. If Doumit isn’t brought in as a part-time catcher, I think he doesn’t fit with this club.

    I’d much rather the M’s target a good outfielder like Angel Pagan, Grady Sizemore or Seth Smith instead. Inquire about David Ortiz. Doumit as a LF? No thanks.

  78. gwangung on November 8th, 2011 4:44 pm

    Aren’t there 3b that are close to Votto’s caliber, that are possibly available, that the Votto proposal could be done with?

    Don’t think so. I mean, I don’t think folks would ignore something as obvious as that.

  79. Paul Covert on November 8th, 2011 4:56 pm

    Thanks, vj– I’d almost forgotten they used to call me that. :-)

  80. xxtinynickxx on November 8th, 2011 5:02 pm

    Daves not here……

  81. samregens on November 8th, 2011 5:11 pm

    Thank you Dave, reading your offseason plans has always been a bright spot for me after the games are over.
    (But I just always worry that other people/teams would steal your ideas.)

    I think you’ve given two great plans on both sides of the spectrum. While this plan seems more doable, since it is less dependent on the Red’s stance with Votto, and also doesn’t involve what would be one of the most sought out players if he was on the market, it would be an extremely hard sell to the general population of Mariner fans, as noted.

    I wonder if there could be something in between. Someone like Big Papi wouldn’t break the bank in terms of salary or prospects, but would immediately be the legitimate presence in the middle of the order that we’ve been lacking since Edgar’s prime, and would also energize the fanbase.

  82. Chris_From_Bothell on November 8th, 2011 5:54 pm

    Don’t think so. I mean, I don’t think folks would ignore something as obvious as that.

    Well, the Reds’ GM keeps saying Votto is 1000%-unavailable-and-please-stop-asking, so maybe there’s some non-obvious, more-available-than-one-guesses 3b about.

  83. stevemotivateir on November 8th, 2011 6:12 pm

    Some of you seem to be forgetting that off season signings don’t have to be the final draft. If they went with a plan like this, gave guys like Carp and Smoak more time to show what they have, they could always make a move before the trade deadline to acquire a bat if they’re not cutting it. There could very well be someone available then, that isn’t available now. Or an arm for that matter if there’s still a hole.

    Here’s the reality check: we’re not contending until 2014.

    Really sick of hearing crap like that. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. Smoak and Carp could have break-out years, giving us a strong middle of the order with Ackley. Paxton and Hultzen could step up soon and dominate. Maybe an unexpected name pops-up and sparks something. You never know. Nobody expected Arizona to do anything last year. Even the Pirates looked good for the better part of the year.

  84. Mariner Melee on November 8th, 2011 6:21 pm

    I’ve always been a endorser of Doumit. I like it. I can’t imagine that everything will work out as we the we think.

    Still 3/5 would be nice…

  85. Valenica on November 8th, 2011 6:35 pm

    Well, the Reds’ GM keeps saying Votto is 1000%-unavailable-and-please-stop-asking, so maybe there’s some non-obvious, more-available-than-one-guesses 3b about.

    Ryan Zimmerman, and he’s probably less available.

    D-Backs are not trading Upton again until after 2013/2014 when he has 1-2 years left. Maybe by then they’d be willing to take a Taijuan Walker who just lit up the MLB Pineda style, along with a couple other pieces?

    That’s the benefit of waiting. By the time we’re near contention, guys like Votto, McCutchen, Upton, Wieters, Heyward, Stanton, and a host of other breakout stars will hit FA/be on the block. We can’t do a Taijuan Walker for Justin Upton trade for 2012, but for 2014, 2015? Maybe it happens. Our core is a group of 22-25 year olds. We need to look to add 22-25 year olds, not 28-30 year olds. But generally those 22-25 year olds aren’t movable at that age. Once they get closer to 27, start hitting the last year of arbitration, on non-contenders, they start to look movable. That’s when we make a big trade for a 28 year old superstar. Not when our team is a bunch of kids with half a year in development.

  86. rth1986 on November 8th, 2011 7:59 pm

    • Making a big free-agent splash (i.e. signing Fielder) only makes us about an 85-win team, which isn’t enough to challenge Texas and may jeopardize the future in the process.

    Making a big free-agent splash likely means the team couldn’t upgrade in other areas. Meaning that it’d still only be about an 80 win team. Fielder isn’t a 10 win upgrade. 5 at best.

    With the right low-cost moves, the team could be around 85, but it’d take lots of creavity.

    My targets would be Ortiz, Ryan Hanigan, Seth Smith, Martin Prado and Erik Bedard.

    Get rid of Figgins. Try to use guys like Mike Carp, Greg Halman, Alex Liddi and Blake Beavan as trade bait.

  87. aerichner on November 8th, 2011 8:02 pm

    Those names obviously wont cause anyone to buy season tickets but i like it…more so if any of those 1 year guys can become a Type B free agent. Toronto and TB take advantage of signing guys like that and getting an extra pick in the draft. Would love for this organization to start doing that.

    Bringing back Bedard is an obvious move for me. Doumit and Snyder upgrade Bradley and Olivo (with Olivo upgrading Bard/Gimenez). Capuano replaces Fister (with some more upside being left handed) and Frank Francisco (or another similarly priced RP) helps League in the bullpen.

    I dont hate it and eventhough this is a Dave Cameron plan and probably doesnt happen AND I prefer going all out on Votto (maybe Fielder – i love the long ball!!) I could live with this. I trust this front office too much and if they go with 5 “cheap” signings on 1-2 year deals in the mold Dave mentions above then I’m okay with that.

  88. Rick L on November 8th, 2011 8:14 pm

    Jaimie Moyer from Plan A would seem to fit in plan B as well.

  89. eponymous coward on November 8th, 2011 8:46 pm

    This is the basic model for rebuilding – no it’s not guaranteed but when it’s done correctly it’s hard to fail at it.

    And as Cleveland and Oakland illustrate, it’s not effortless to do correctly.

    The problem is that punting one year to concentrate on another isn’t the right way of looking at this. It’s that you should do the best thing for your team every year- but part of that is balancing the now against the future, and winning now has value, in terms of not nuking your fan base (Tampa’s had a good team for years and STILL can’t draw flies), as well as not turning your organization into a joke ala Kansas City or Baltimore, in perpetual rebuilding mode.

    Putting a decent team on the field now is still a priority. You still need to give yourself a chance, instead of going limp until 2014. That’s why you keep Felix. That’s why you sign players instead of just recycling through AAA farmhands.

    I, too, see 2014 as the year that they begin to become perennially competitive.

    You know, 29 other teams get a vote on this, too. This isn’t entirely up to the Mariners as to when they get to be competitive.

    Nobody knows what’s going to happen.

    Bingo. Raise your hand if you predicted the 2010 Padres or the 2011 Diamondbacks. The 2008 Giants went from 72 wins to 88, then won a World Series. The 2011 Brewers added 29 wins to their team last year. The 2011 Detroit Tigers added 25 wins. The 2009 Seattle Mariners added 24 wins in a single season. That’s 6 different franchises in the last 5 years who’ve had 20+ win bumps, from being various shades of bad to decent. Should they have gone into the season thinking “nope, we’re not there on our five year plan”?

    It’s not certain, or even likely that you’ll get that Great Leap Forward- but you need to put yourself in position to take it.

  90. eponymous coward on November 8th, 2011 9:05 pm

    Oh, and remember this post by Dave?

    http://www.ussmariner.com/2011/10/25/what-a-playoff-team-looks-like/

    OK, Arizona’s on that chart at 47.4, Tampa’s at 46.1. Dave’s team is at 39. So, 7-8 WAR short, huh?

    OK, let’s do this:

    - Ichiro decides it’s his money year and he’s a 4 WAR player again, not 2 in Dave’s chart. Now we’re at 41.

    - Ackley’s more of a 4.5 WAR player than a 3 WAR player. Now we’re at 42.5.

    - We have a group of Smoak, Carp, Seager and Wells pegged at 5.5 WAR. Let’s put them at 7- essentially, instead of Smoak being a ~ average MLB ballplayer out of that group (2 WAR), we get two, and two kinda decent MLB role player ballplayers at ~1.5 WAR. We’re now at 44 WAR.

    - Pineda’s a little better than we thought, 4.5 WAR. We’re at 45 WAR.

    - Our bullpen’s a little better than we thought. One more WAR. 46 WAR.

    Yes, this IS the optimistic, rose-colored glasses scenario. I’d say given the past couple of years you are just as likely to see us fall 8 WAR short of 39 than 8 WAR over… but you’re talking about seeing a rebound from a HOFer, two stud players continuing to develop, and recent acquisitions gaining on their skills. Not impossible.

  91. groundzero55 on November 8th, 2011 9:27 pm

    No Ortiz. No Aramis Ramirez. Those guys are dangerously near the point at which they completely break down and I don’t want it to be on our watch, while we are paying their checks.

    Guys 30 or under, cool.

  92. Madison Mariner on November 8th, 2011 10:08 pm

    Thanks for posting this, Dave. I like this plan for the most part and think it’s probably 90% close to what we’ll see actually happen.

    One or two changes that I’d make if it were my plan(and I realize it’s not):

    a. I would sign one of Chris Capuano or Erik Bedard, but not both. I see Blake Beavan is in the bullpen, but I don’t really see any reason why he couldn’t go back to being the 5th starter–yes, he’s right handed and yes, he may regress a bit, but I’d expect stats similar to what he put up this past season for next year over a full season(with adjustments, obviously).

    b. With that money saved, I’d also pass on Ryan Doumit. Maybe it’s because he can do many things OK, but nothing great(he can hit OK, is passable defensively at C and in the OF, etc.)

    c. With the money saved on not signing Doumit or one of Bedard or Capuano(and I’d probably favor getting Capuano over Bedard), I’d go after someone like Ryan Ludwick to play LF, or perhaps even Josh Willingham if I’m really feeling like taking a risk.

    Yes, OF defense is a concern, and I’m not sure either is hugely better than Doumit(without knowing the stats off the top of my head), but I’d trust either of their bats more.

    For the other bullpen spot, I’d let Robles, Snow, and Pryor compete for the job(and possibly sign Aardsma to a minor league deal and hope he is ready by midseason as well).

  93. Gibbo on November 9th, 2011 12:24 am

    I think Jack will be feeling the pressure to do more than this. If we put out another team that just scrapes through the season, we lose another year of being able to compete with Felix here and attendance continues to drop as will future potential pay roll.

    I appreciate why you would be patient, but why could we not do a mix of both? We wont empty the farm by doing one decent deal and another smaller one. If we traded Pineda we can probably replace him in this years draft – so how does that set us back that far?

    So yeah I would go hard after maybe a guy like either Jay Bruce, Chase Headley, Alex Gordon, Logan Morrison or Martin Prado. I think this team is getting close and dont think sending away Pineda and other depth pieces hurts us that much. I am no expert at predicting what it would cost, but a mix of Pineda, League, Seager, Truinfel, Peguero, Saunders and Figgins (we pay his salary) plus a couple of AA arms and we should come close to getting a couple of these guys on the list.

    Particulary with another very high draft pick comming – to replace the one really key piece we would send away. Z man needs results as do the fans.

    So for me go trade for Headley and Bruce, sign Bedard and Snyder – wilson Betemit if we only make one big trade.

    And if Figgins is still here then send him away in a bad contract swap for Zambrano or someone like that – he and Bedard act as a place holders until Hultzen and co are ready.

    Bruce maybe a stretch but Pineda and pieces will get us a very good bat and we will replace him with another guy in this years draft etc.

  94. Valenica on November 9th, 2011 1:28 am

    IMO the best option is to add Yu Darvish and Yoennis Cespedes. Add a high-upside starter the same age as Felix, and a high-upside OFer to throw in the OF mix. Both of them are in the core age bracket 23-27, and need a year or 2 to develop.

    Darvish pans out, which is very likely with his stuff, and Hultzen/Paxton pan out, then we can move Walker in 2014/2015 for a Wieters/McCutchen/Upton type. If Hultzen or Paxton don’t pan out we can fall back on Walker.

    Cespedes starts in AAA, if Wells/Gutierrez works out, keep Cespedes in AAA until Ichiro leaves. If he destroys AAA, bring him up and rotate him through LF/CF/RF/DH. If one of Wells/Gutierrez fails, bring him up and play him.

    It’s risker, but the upside is bigger. With the amount of money we have, our current roster, the FA market, and our current development track, adding Darvish and Cespedes makes the most sense short-term and long-term. The 2013 Catcher FA market is flush with big names like Miguel Montero and Yadier Molina. We can fix Catcher then with Ichiro’s money.

  95. Gibbo on November 9th, 2011 1:57 am

    I like the Cespedes idea but I think the Darvish posting fee will be crazy money and it’s just not a desperate area of need for us.

  96. South Pacific on November 9th, 2011 2:12 am

    It seems that everyone forgets that Mariners baseball WAS interesting for a fair part of the season this year. A fluky long losing streak did us in, but it was interesting till then. Also, plan B has no backup for Center Field.

  97. n_jaeger on November 9th, 2011 5:49 am

    So i just had a random idea and would love to hear people’s thoughts on this. Does anyone really believe that McCutchen will sign a long term deal with Pittsburgh? His name hasn’t been out there at all as being available for a trade, but I would love for Jack Z to make a run at him. Blow them away with a package of Pineda/Franklin/Snow etc. This would give the Pirates a big time supply of arms and a answer at shortstop that they desperately need, while giving us a long term answer in CF and at the top of the order. Yah I know I am dreaming big here

  98. vj on November 9th, 2011 6:17 am

    It seems that everyone forgets that Mariners baseball WAS interesting for a fair part of the season this year. A fluky long losing streak did us in, but it was interesting till then.

    I agree. If I am not mistaken, the M’s were at 43-43 on July 6, when the 17-game losing streak started. So arguably, half the season they were close to contending.

    Also, plan B has no backup for Center Field.

    I think Casper Wells should be OK as a backup. Ans Saunders would be available in Tacoma if not traded or released.

  99. Drayer on November 9th, 2011 6:31 am

    I like the idea of signing Capuano and Bedard. I also like Doumit, but not as an outfielder. The M’s need a catcher than can bat from the left side to platoon with Olivo, and Doumit fits.

    I think that the 8M toward Francisco and Snyder could be better spent. I would use it on outfielder Rick Ankiel (4.5M) and 3B Wilson Betemit (3.5M). Both players would add some pop. Ankiel also offers another option in CF.

  100. SonOfZavaras on November 9th, 2011 8:52 am

    I like a good deal of this plan. In my own mind, I’d be ASTOUNDED if the Mariners were not players for Bedard, and Capuano makes a world of sense for us as a high-reward, low-risk option.

    I know the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp is very close to free agency (after this season)..but I’m wondering if he might NOT be a good candidate to go after in trade for this year, and then do your utmost to sign long-term.

  101. just a fan on November 9th, 2011 10:58 am

    I like this plan, I like it more than the Votto plan even though, DINGERS! Heck, if Votto were available, I might stick with this plan.

    All the defeatists out here need to remember, BASEBALL! Every year, there is some sure-fire cellar dweller that makes a strong push — whether they come up short (2010 Pads) or finish the job (2011 Diamondbacks). This is a team that has the offensive upside to contend. With Smoak, Carp, Ackley and Wells, the offense is likely to be not historically terrible. Having the best run prevention doesn’t require an offensive juggernaut to be competitive.

    That’s where Francisco comes in. What’s one reason the 2007 and 2009 M’s outperformed their run differential? A strong bullpen. Adding Francisco makes the M’s less reliant on Lueke, Cortes, Kelley and Wilhelmsen at the back-end.

    As for the offense, while I doubt he’s available during the offseason, it’s possible Ryan Zimmerman becomes available over the summer. Zim is a free agent after 2013, and if the Natties are struggling, Paxton or Walker could headline a deal for him. It’s also possible Vargas could be swapped this summer to a pitching-starved, OF/DH-crazy team.

    With a competitive first half, the M’s are well positioned to be strong players at the deadline.

    And pray for Guti’s stomach.

  102. Chris_From_Bothell on November 9th, 2011 10:59 am

    I know the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp is very close to free agency (after this season)..but I’m wondering if he might NOT be a good candidate to go after in trade for this year, and then do your utmost to sign long-term.

    A righthanded Dodger batter who had a career year and 39 homeruns, brought in to shore up the offense. Hm. Sounds familiar.

    All snark aside, I thought (from my very limited understanding of the trade market in general and Dodgers specifically) that the Dodgers were looking for more offense. I don’t know if offering them some shovelful of pitchers and one of the outfield pile would do it. And I don’t think the Votto plan works here, as Kemp has been good 4 out of the last 5 years but I don’t think he’s on a level that merits trading Pineda for him.

  103. Chris_From_Bothell on November 9th, 2011 11:05 am

    It seems that everyone forgets that Mariners baseball WAS interesting for a fair part of the season this year. A fluky long losing streak did us in, but it was interesting till then.

    Well, in hindsight, it was more like a fluky first half stretch of the rotation pitching out of its mind, got people’s hopes up higher than they should have been. The interesting bits apart from that stretch of idle dreaming in June or so, were folks like Carp, Pineda, Ackley, etc. coming into their own.

  104. IM on November 9th, 2011 11:48 am

    I would look some of the Internation Free Agents before dropping 12Mil on Capuano
    Iwakuma I think has more upside, he may cost a bit more.
    Wei-Ying Chen is the guy to go and get, he’s a lefty with better stuff, probably in the same to lower price range and has said he would come to the MLB if given an opportunity to make someone’s rotation.
    Tsuyoshi Wada is a lefty, nothing too special, but I’d take him over Capuano at that price

  105. opiate82 on November 9th, 2011 2:56 pm

    I wonder, with Jack Z only getting a one year extension, what kind of pressure he is under to put a contender on the field now. What kind of expectations does he need to meet to keep his job (realistic or not).

    I would like to see what a Plan C “I must contend now to keep my job” plan looks like. I’m not talking about a signing Fielder and Puljos pipe-dream, but a plan relative to the M’s expected payroll. Winning now may very well be the situation Jack Z finds himself in this year.

    I’m not saying I’m an advocate of executing such a plan since it would most likely involve decimating the farm system to achieve it, but still would like to see what a “win in 2012 the consequences be damned” plan would be.

  106. Mariners2620 on November 9th, 2011 3:18 pm

    Ownership has some deep pockets, and they need to bump up the payroll once again. I can understand their concern, seeing as how Bavasi completely screwed it up. Jack Z, in my eyes, has earned the trust of giving him a bit of cash to play with. it was once at 117 million or so, I believe, and now it is at what….90 million. That is still a ton of money, but if they are interested in putting butts in the seats and wins on the board, they need to put a little bit of faith in Z.

  107. qwerty on November 9th, 2011 3:29 pm

    I like it generally. I also wish a 3B & MI option would be added.
    How about Jamey Carroll or Jeff Blake as a space filler.

  108. diderot on November 9th, 2011 3:43 pm

    Winning now may very well be the situation Jack Z finds himself in this year.

    This sentiment is offered a lot, but I wonder if there’s any evidence whatsoever to support it.
    I think it’s just as likely that the current front office would prefer never to do another GM search in their careers. My belief is that they’re very much behind him and suppport his approach 100%.

    I don’t know that for a fact…but think it’s at least as likely.

  109. stevemotivateir on November 9th, 2011 4:20 pm

    ^ They signed him to a multi-year extension, so you’re correct. You can bet he has several plans in place -and improvised versions of each one as things play-out. You can also bet Armstrong and company are well aware of the plans. Some plans may include bigger names nobody suspects (like with Lee a couple years ago). Point is, again, anything’s possible.

  110. ripperlv on November 9th, 2011 4:40 pm

    When the arguments are done, it’s really almost the same team as last year. The upgrade in pitching might be improved out of spring training. But the pitching could very well be equaled sometime next season if Hultzen, Paxton, and Snow were ready in 2012. If your going to go this route, I rather throw the money at Yu Darvish and build an awesome rotation. Along with Beadard and or Moyer. You still have the money to spend on Doumit/Snyder. Also if you sign Darvish, you can afford to package Pineda or Paxton or Hultzen with another prospect or two for some offense.

  111. GOB Bluth on November 9th, 2011 5:25 pm

    Call me crazy but isn’t there some sort of trade scenario that doesn’t involve Votto that the M’s and GMZ could pursue? Why not put a similar package together Dave proposed for Votto for a corner outfielder with upside (Upton, McCutchen) and then also sign the Bedard’s and Caupono’s? I don’t know but I would love to see a team that doesn’t suck next year and going after players like those wouldn’t cost much more than Votto so it wouldn’t jeopardize the future and it would give us a much better team next year.

  112. stevemotivateir on November 9th, 2011 6:50 pm

    ^ For the love of God, PLEASE don’t start talking about Votto in this thread. Thank you.

  113. olystuart on November 9th, 2011 7:21 pm

    Hm. I agree with eponymous’ realistic optimism, though I’d add Paxton too because I think he could very well come up in April and bust out 2-3 war in ’12. I’d say just go ahead and pick one out of Bedard or Capuano for that reason. I’m not going to even attempt to try to figure out who we could get in a trade for some combination of Walker (big name, big money tools, much more of a longshot than Paxton or Hultzen realistically and especially in the short term = trade this one), Liddi, Halman, Cortes, etc, but Walker is a hell of a prospect and maybe we could find a real catcher or a much better RH OF/DH than Doumit. Coming from Z it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he one-upped this Plan B with a trade like that, though I can only guess with my prospect-opinion bias as to whom for whom.

  114. bookbook on November 9th, 2011 8:12 pm

    I’d like to see the payroll expanded to 100 million or even a touch higher. It’s in the M’s longterm best interest to squeeze past .500 in 2012, if possible. Could an extra 6 or 8 million make that happen, if applied in conjunction with this kind of careful moving forward? I suspect so…

  115. GOB Bluth on November 9th, 2011 8:56 pm

    I wasn’t trying to get the Votto trade talk back up and running because, well, that was just ridiculous. I was more wondering if there were other trade options out there that we could go after that wouldn’t mortgage the future that would help this year and for the next few years, while still leaving room on the payroll for several mid-market FA upgrades. It’s not like Votto is the only impact bat that could be traded for this winter. I was hoping there was somebody out there smarter than me that could answer that and if this isn’t the thread for that, the last thing I want to do is get a discussion started about how our prospects would never get traded for player X. I had plenty of that with Dave’s plan A.

  116. Sons of Bucky Jacobsen on November 9th, 2011 10:38 pm

    After reading Dave’s posts with Votto and without, the only thing I have to say is: Bedard? Really? Haven’t we all suffered enough? Why not bring back Jose Lopez while we’re at it. Rob Johnson anyone?

  117. Gibbo on November 9th, 2011 10:57 pm

    Totally agree deal Pineda and co for a decent OF’er. Or how about Gordon and Mike Moustakas, we would have to deal maybe Wells, Pineda, Liddi or Chone for free. But we keep rebuilding with better short term opportunities too.

    That’s what I expect GMZ to do, move the depth to areas we dont have it. Or bring in MCGeehee to compete with Seager and then add in a McCutchen or Bruce. We won’t empty our farm and trade for a guys that aren’t just rentals. Smart upgrades is the way. All these guys in AAA etc can’t all get the chance so some need to go away in trades.

  118. The_Waco_Kid on November 9th, 2011 11:24 pm

    As far as appeasing the fan base, just contend. Win games. Prince Fielder will draw fans for 2 months max. Maybe Moyer could help a bit. But if they are in last place it won’t matter. Aside from trading both Felix and Ichiro, just make the team better and the fans will show up.

  119. Valenica on November 10th, 2011 3:14 am

    I have a problem with Chone Figgins’ projection. Why is it so low? His BABIP was a complete anomoly: .189/.081/.558 GB/FB/LD vs. .245/.139/.719 league average and .272/.185/.715 career. If 2010′s a true benchmark for his hitting, with some extra LDs falling in like they should, he projects around 100 wRC+ no? If his defense going forward is league average (1.1 UZR 2011) then he should still be a decent 2-3 WAR player. As much as I’d like to see Liddi or Seager start the first 2 months, maybe Chone Figgins is still the best option after all.

    FYI: Ichiro’s rates were .256/.168/.598 vs .300/.163/.699 career. The GB BABIP drop is worrisome (speed?) which might indicate his defense woes are for real. If that’s the case, 2 WAR seems like a decent projection.

  120. zagfan22 on November 10th, 2011 9:56 am

    I saw that Norichika Aoki will be posted by the Yakult Swallows. Aoki is a 28 year old outfielder who hit .292/.358/.360 this year. Patrick Newman on FanGraphs goes as far to say that “Aoki…(is the)truest hitter that Japan has produced since Ichiro.”

    Would it be bad if we put in a post for him to come in and play left field and then become our Japanese draw once Ichiro leaves?

    If we are looking for an OF, would he provide more production than what is on the free agent market?

  121. eponymous coward on November 10th, 2011 12:51 pm

    .292/.358/.360 isn’t that impressive a statline in JLeague.

  122. KaminaAyato on November 11th, 2011 11:37 am

    .292/.358/.360 isn’t that impressive a statline in JLeague.

    Though this year they implemented a single ball throughout all teams which seemed to lower batting averages and HR totals all around while lowering ERA’s.

    I mean, when you have 4 pitchers in the PL and 2 in the CL with sub 2 ERA’s, when there was only 1 in both leagues last year, something’s going on.

    Also, the 25th best batter in the PL (i.e. batting title) that qualified had an average of .244. BA isn’t the best indicator, but still, even for NPB, that’s pretty bad.

    This article too looks into the depressed offense:
    http://www.baseball-lab.jp/column_detail/&blog_id=16&id=144

  123. Madison Mariner on November 13th, 2011 3:12 am

    Totally agree deal Pineda and co for a decent OF’er. Or how about Gordon and Mike Moustakas, we would have to deal maybe Wells, Pineda, Liddi or Chone for free.

    You can pretty much forget about getting anyone from Kansas City on the offensive side.

    a) Gordon is now the LF with Melky Cabrera sent to the Giants for Sanchez and Verdugo. CF will go to Lorenzo Cain, obtained in the Greinke trade, and RF is Jeff Francouer’s for now. And don’t say, “But they have Wil Myers in the wings”. That’s where he’ll stay, with a full season at AA/AAA in 2012 and a potential 2013 debut(with Francouer possibly being trade bait.)

    b) Moustakas struggled, but they didn’t trade away both Aviles and Betemit to then dump Moustakas. They’ll have him for 6 more years(no, not 5–he debuted late enough in 2011 to delay his free agency until after 2017, unlike Michael Pineda who got a full season with the M’s.) They aren’t shipping him anywhere.

    Basically, the Royals need pitching, yes, but I doubt they would sacrifice their now intact young, cost-controlled lineup(at everywhere but catcher, really) to get pitching. They do have some prospects in the organization who they could trade for a decent pitcher like Pineda, but those prospects(Christian Colon) are far enough away that they don’t help the Mariners. ;)

    More likely they’ll trade prospects ranked in the #11-20 range for someone like Carlos Zambrano, or…if they throw in 1 or 2 decent prospects not named Bubba Starling(who they can’t trade right now anyway), maybe John Danks of the White Sox?

    Just a few thoughts.

  124. wschroer on November 18th, 2011 9:33 am

    Oh god…yet another “run prevention” approach to the off season.

    Let’s ignore the twin disasters of 2009 and 2010 – let’s try another variation of the approach which lauded (at the time) the Casey Kotchman signing …..

    To win, you need someone to hit the ball at least as often as the other team hits the ball…..the Marooners did not do this and unless this changes, they will lose and lose and lose and lose. Their main focus has to be on becoming at least league average in offense – then and only then will good pitching or a good bullpen or being good fielders make any difference in the outcome.

  125. eponymous coward on November 18th, 2011 12:35 pm

    Their main focus has to be on becoming at least league average in offense

    The 2009 SF Giants?

    13th in the NL in runs scored.

    88-74 record.

    The 2010 SD Padres?

    12th in the NL in runs scored.

    90-72 record.

    BUT DINGERZ!!!!!!!1111!!!

    Just because Zduriencik hasn’t executed his strategy well doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In fact, the 2009 Mariners are a decent illustration of the strategy.

    The problem is that sometimes you hit blackjack (2009), sometimes you bust (2010-2011). The important thing is for Zduriencik to not cripple the 2015 Mariners with a stupid contract by sending armored trucks full of cash to the wrong free agents, while doing the best he can for the 2012 Mariners. This offseason isn’t a good one for adding offense. So don’t.

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